DUBLIN: British Prime Minister Theresa May will travel Monday to Strasbourg in a bid to “finalise” her Brexit deal ahead of a crucial vote in the UK parliament, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said.
“The British prime minister is travelling to Strasbourg this evening, I understand, to try to finalise an agreement if that’s possible to be able to put that to a meaningful vote in Westminster tomorrow,” Coveney told reporters in Dublin.
Top EU officials are meeting in Strasbourg this week for the European Parliament’s plenary session.
However, a British government source immediately cautioned there were no plans in place yet for May to travel and said the Irish foreign minister was “getting ahead of himself”.
The possible visit follows a weekend of deadlocked talks between London and Brussels, with less than three weeks to go before Britain’s scheduled departure from the bloc.
May is scrambling to secure changes to her divorce deal, which was massively rejected by British MPs in January, ahead of another crunch vote on the agreement in the House of Commons on Tuesday.
Hopes for a breakthrough looked slim earlier Monday, with further talks shelved due to a lack of progress.
The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier told AFP the time had come for May to focus on negotiating with members of her own parliament rather than with the bloc.
British MPs overwhelmingly rejected May’s deal when it was first put to them on January 16, objecting in particular to a controversial Irish “backstop” clause.
The backstop would keep the whole of the UK in a customs union with the EU in order to keep the land border between the British province of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland free-flowing.
May had vowed to British lawmakers that she would renegotiate the clause, but EU leaders have opposed reopening the draft deal.
The impasse potentially leaves the embattled British leader with little to show for her efforts, prompting warnings of another humiliating loss.